By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
ALBUQUERQUE — The prosecution rested its case Friday afternoon in the capital murder trial of Stanley Bedford. The defense expects to do the same thing quickly next week.
After a motion to dismiss charges against his client due to lack of evidence was denied, defense attorney Gary Mitchell told Judge Stephen Quinn that barring a long-winded cross-examination strategy from the state, “I anticipate the defense should be finished Monday.”
In that event, Quinn said, both sides should prepare to give closing arguments Tuesday.
Three witnesses testified Friday in a short day for jurors, who were dismissed about 1:30 p.m. The jurors heard testimony relating to Bedford’s arrest and when Jerry Fuller was shot.
Fuller, who testified earlier in the trial against Bedford, is serving a 127-year sentence after pleading guilty to killing Odis and Doris Newman of Portales. The elderly couple’s bodies were found in the trunk of a burned car March 3, 2005, on a dirt road in Roosevelt County.
Bedford, 43, faces two murder and kidnapping charges, in addition to evidence tampering and possession of stolen property charges, in connection with the Newmans’ deaths. He may face the death penalty if convicted.
David Luera, an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, was the final witness for the prosecution.
He interviewed the defendant the week following Bedford’s arrest in Clovis for possession of stolen property.
Luera said he spoke with Bedford on three occasions.
The first was March 7, 2005, when Bedford, Archie Crawford and Cynthia Peninger were being held at the Clovis Police Department after they tried to pawn Doris Newman’s jewelry in Clovis, he said
Luera said during his initial interview with Bedford, the defendant told him he found the jewelry that morning while “Dumpster diving.” Luera said also during the interview Bedford initially denied knowing Fuller, but later said, “Oh, the white dude — I know Jerry,” when he was told other people had seen them together.
Luera said he talked with Bedford two other times: a brief exchange March 10 at the Curry County Detention Center and a longer conversation later that day at the CPD building.
During that interview, Bedford said Fuller paid him $100 to give him a ride. He told Luera he followed Fuller, who was driving the Newmans’ Lincoln Town Car, and was shocked when Fuller set the car on fire. Also in that interview, Bedford said Fuller accidentally left the Newman’s jewelry in a bag in the car Bedford was driving, a black Dodge Neon.
On cross-examination, Mitchell read through interview transcripts with Luera and pointed out Bedford volunteered information about the case after waiving attorney rights, repeatedly denied he knew the Newmans or where they lived, and had nothing to do with their deaths.
When asked by Luera if his blood would show up on Odis Newman’s blue pickup truck, Mitchell read Bedford’s answer as, “It’s not going to be on nobody’s nothing.”
Highlights from Friday’s testimony in Stanley Bedford’s capital murder trial in Albuquerque:
Relationship to case: Son-in-law of Odis and Doris Newman. Worked at Valley Electric under Odis for 26 years before purchasing the business six years ago.
Testimony: His in-laws were rarely out at night, and generally kept the front door locked. The Newmans usually entered their home through the garage. Odis would sometimes make lures, and was getting set for a fishing trip at Oasis State Park that weekend. He never left home without his glasses and a baseball cap, but he rarely wore either inside the home. The jacket he normally wore, a denim jacket, was never found in the house.
Cross-examination: If Odis went outside, he would put his jacket on. In general, Doris Newman would call her sister at around 6 p.m. and usually get to bed between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. There was a break-in at the Newman residence a few weeks before, likely because Doris left a window unlocked when she smoked inside.
Redirect: A fishing lure was found in the driveway of the home, and Dixon said that was unusual. The break-in was never reported because they figured it was some neighborhood kids. Only coins and candy bars were missing following the break-in, which occurred while the Newmans weren’t home.
Relationship to case: Member of Clovis Police Department SWAT team called to aid in arrest of Jerry Fuller.
Testimony: Romero drew a diagram for jurors of how the SWAT team surrounded and shot Fuller on the morning of March 8, 2005.
He said Fuller was pacing around a shed “like a tiger in a cage,” and SWAT members surrounded him because chasing him would have been tough with all of the gear they wore.
Fuller raised what was later determined to be a pellet gun and three other officers fired eight shots. Three of those shots hit Fuller. Romero said he would have fired his gun under those same circumstances.
After Fuller was shot, Romero came in to help Fuller before the ambulance arrived. Fuller told him, “Don’t let me die.” He didn’t know of Fuller’s involvement in the homicides. He was only there to capture Fuller.
Cross-examination: An audio recording at the scene clearly indicates Fuller saying, “Don’t let me die,” and “I don’t want to die.” He said Fuller identified himself as Jerry, but also said the names “Stan” and “Justin.”
Defense attorney Gary Mitchell asked if he could have said, “Dustin,” but Romero responded he heard a “J” sound.
Redirect: Fuller’s actions were pretty clear to Romero. “It was the first time in my career I’d ever seen suicide by cop.”
In that scenario, the person doesn’t have the strength to commit the suicide themselves, so they “force the issue” by endangering (or pretending to endanger) officers who will have no choice but to respond by shooting.